"How Are You" in Thai
"How Are You" and other phrases for smalltalk in Thai
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Lingo Ninja Research Team
3 min read · first published May 1, 2021

How to ask "How are you?" in Thai

Note: This is the standard phrase you learn in every school. But to Thais, this phrase seems quite formal. In informal situations and with friends Thais would not ask this, but would use the phrases further down in the article instead.

Men say: ?
Women say: ?
This literally means: you - fine - question - polite

To answer this question, you can say "I am fine" in Thai:
Men say: . .
Women say: . .
Literally: fine - polite. Thank you - polite.

If you want to ask back, how the other person is, you say:
Men say: ?
Women say: ?
Literally: And - about you - polite

Note 1: The words , , and are called polite particles and make the sentences polite. Don't leave them out, otherwise, you might sound a bit unfriendly. If you want o know more about polite particles, read this article: Thai Polite Particles.

Note 2: In English, you can ask anyone how they are. In Thai, you would ask only people you already know. And this question above is a bit formal. In informal situations or with friends, Thais often ask other questions (see below).

Video example



Note1: This video also includes the Thai greeting. Learn it here: How to say Hello in Thai

Note2: The speakers use the words and for "I" (like in "I am fine"). Women use and men use . But most Thais don't say these words in this sentence. It's completely fine to leave out and .

What most Thais really use

Thais don't use "How are you?" as often as people in the west. Instead, they ask:
  • Have you eaten yet?
  • Where are you going?
  • An informal version of "how are you".
These questions are considered completely polite and are ok to ask in most situations. Let's go through these, one by one:

"Have you eaten yet?" in Thai

Eating is very important in Thailand. This phrase is an indirect way of asking how you are. It implies are you healthy, do you have enough time, and take good enough care of yourself to eat?
Have you eaten yet?
Men ask: ?
Women ask: ?
Literally: Eat - rice - or not yet - polite?

Answer: I have not.
Men say:
Women say:
Literally: not yet- polite

Answer: I have.
Men say:
Women say:
Literally: Eat - already - polite

Notes:
  1. This question is small talk, nobody will take your answer too seriously. 
  2. If you arrive at someone's home (and it's not a lunch or dinner invitation), you should reply "I have eaten already", whether it is true or not.  Otherwise, the host would feel pressured to feed you. (But Thai etiquette requires the host anyhow to offer you food, regardless of you being hungry.)
  3. literally means "rice", but is used as "food" as well.

Video example

"Where are you going?" in Thai

Where are you going?
Men ask: ()?
Women ask: ()?
Literally: Will - go - where - polite?
You can leave out without any consequence.

Possible answer: I am going to eat.
Men say:
Women say:
Literally: Go - eat - rice - polite

Notes:
  1. This is polite small talk. People ask it mainly to know that everything is all right with you. Your answer does not have to be correct, you can always say you're going to eat.

Video example

Informal "How are you?" in Thai

Here are three possible versions of "How are you" in Thai:
  • /? (formal)
  • /? (informal)
  • /? (more informal)
Literally: be - how - request - polite

Notes: 
  1. All versions are less formal than /
  2. With friends, it is fine to use the most informal version (the one with ).  

Video example

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Lingo Ninja Research Team
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